Crystal Cove Beach Resort’s GM J.J. Belanger and Ocean Outfitters GM Ocean Simone Shine proudly display their EcoStar Awards. The trophies were made from recycled chopsticks. (Nora O’Malley / Westerly News)

Tofino’s Crystal Cove and Ocean Outfitters win Vancouver Island EcoStar Awards for green steps

"Tourism is a privilege and our organization takes our ecological footprint seriously."

Crystal Cove Beach Resort and Ocean Outfitters are Vancouver Island 2018 EcoStar Award winners.

Crystal Cove earned a nod for their Water Conservation efforts and Ocean Outfitters for Ecological Stewardship. Presented by Synergy Sustainability Institute, the EcoStar Awards feature 19 categories that recognize outstanding environmental achievements and leadership by businesses, organizations and individuals.

General manager of Crystal Cove J.J. Belanger said their journey towards water conservation all started in 2014 when the District of Tofino realized the water flow meters at several of the resorts and businesses were not calculating the flows properly.

“We went from paying $7,000 a year for water to $70,000,” recalls Belanger. “Long story short, we realized we had a massive consumption problem so we started looking into ways to conserve water and with all the gardens we had at Crystal Cove that was the number one issue.”

The lofty water bill propelled Crystal Cove to install rainwater catchment tanks to use exclusively for their gardens. And during the summer months when water restrictions are in full effect, they use rainwater to fill all 28-hot tubs serviced on the property.

“People love the story and the idea behind it. We have successfully shaved 30 per cent off our water costs from that $70,000 bill down to about $38,000 to $40,000 a year,” said Belanger. Crystal Cove, the Tofino-Long Beach Chamber of Commerce award winner for 2018 Business of the Year and 2016 Business of the Year, also reduced their water consumption by upgrading to low-flow faucets and showerheads and dual flush toilets.

Ocean Outfitters general manager Ocean Simone Shine said they are very proud to be recognized alongside other incredible and inspiring businesses making positive impacts.

“Our model of restorative tourism moves far beyond the bottom-line profit motive and is based on community responsibility, education, research, environmental stewardship and carbon action,” said Shine of the carbon-neutral adventure tour operator.

“Deep respect for nature and ethical business practices are our core values. We are committed to supporting local projects and programs that effect real and measurable change in the environment around us,” she said.

As part of a co-existence with wildlife initiative, Ocean Outfitters has contracted experts to conduct a Carnivore-Human Hazard Assessment and to develop a management plan for the District of Tofino. They also support hatchery work and sea lice research through the Cedar Coast Field Station as well as the restoration of the Tranquil watershed through Central Westcoast Forest Society.

“We try to make conscious choices from small things such as providing bikes for staff to commute to work, to our annual beach clean, and our core program design such as our sustenance-only driven fishing.”

In 2017, Ocean Outfitters also received the EcoStar Carbon Action Award.

“Tourism is a privilege and our organization takes our ecological footprint seriously,” said Shine, adding that a healthy portion of trip fees go toward local projects intended to improved the welfare of wildlife, conservation and restoration.

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